Ahmet Yildiz, a 26-year-old gay man who lived proudly and openly in Istanbul, was shot to death leaving a cafe near the Bosphorus Strait this week. His friends believe he may have been the victim of what’s being seen as Turkey’s first “honor killing” of a gay man.
The Independent reports: “Turkey has a history of honour killings. A government survey earlier this year estimated that one person every week dies in Istanbul as a result of honour killings. It put the nationwide death toll at 220 in 2007. In the majority of cases, the victims are women, but Mr Yildiz’s friends suspect he may be the first recorded victim of a homosexual honour killing. ‘We’ve been trying to contact Ahmet’s family since Wednesday, to get them to take responsibility for the funeral,’ one of the victim’s friends said yesterday, standing outside the morgue where his body has been for three days. ‘There’s no answer, and I don’t think they are going to come.’ The refusal of families to bury their relatives is common after honour-related murders. Mazhar Bagli, a Turkish sociologist who has interviewed 189 people convicted of honour killings, has never heard of a death revolving around homosexuality but has no doubt that it could be used as justification. ‘Honour killings cleanse illicit relationships. For women, that is a broad term. Men are allowed more sexual freedom, but homosexuality is still seen by some as beyond the pale.'”
Said Yildiz’s former neighbor: “He could have hidden who he was, but he wanted to live honestly. When the death threats started, his boyfriend tried to persuade him to get out of Turkey. But he stayed. He was too brave. He was too open.”
What a tragedy. May he rest in peace.
In June, a Turkish Court ordered the Lambda Istanbul Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transvestites Solidarity Association shut down because it said that the inclusion of words describing sexual identities of its members in the group’s official name violated public morality.
Top image via Joe.My.God – sent to him by a friend of Ahmet’s.